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House passes flavored tobacco ban one day after Trump administration opposed it

The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act passed on a 213-195 vote.

By Josh Israel - February 28, 2020
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Donald Trump

The House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday designed to combat tobacco and e-cigarette use by America’s youths. The move came one day after the Trump administration announced its opposition to the measure.

The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, authored by Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone (NJ) and Donna Shalala (FL), passed by a margin of 213-195. It was backed by 208 Democrats and five Republicans.

Seventeen Democrats, 177 Republicans, and one independent voted no.

The bill would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes, menthol cigars, and e-cigarette flavorings. It also would require color graphic warning labels on all cigarette packages, require the FDA to regulate all tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) and synthetic nicotine, and ban online sales of e-cigarettes.

“We cannot afford to wait,” Pallone explained as he introduced the bill last year. “We are on the cusp of losing an entirely new generation to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”

A study in November published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 1 in 4 middle and high school students reported vaping nicotine in the past month.

Dozens of national organizations backed the bill, urging Congress to “Protect our kids. Not big tobacco.”

But the Trump administration released a statement on Thursday opposing it, citing provisions it claimed “are unsupported by the available evidence regarding harm reduction and American tobacco use habits” and “constitutional concerns.”

“If presented to the President in its current form,” the statement read, “the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Last year, Trump promised to ban flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods, saying, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.” But after lobbying from conservative organizations and his 2020 campaign manager against a full prohibition, he backed off.

In January, his administration announced restrictions to flavored e-cigarettes, but included multiple exceptions, including for menthol flavors.

It is unlikely that Trump will get a chance to veto the bill. It now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block all “left-wing solutions that are going to be issues in the fall campaign.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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